This October, the RI Department of Labor and Training is launching a month-long education effort to prevent and combat fraud. Among the department's initiatives is a series of free fraud prevention workshops for RI employers in the areas of Unemployment Insurance, Workers' Compensation and Temporary Disability Insurance.
"I commend the RI Department of Labor and Training for its efforts to educate the public about the seriousness of Income Support and Workers' Compensation fraud," Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. "I urge both employers and benefits recipients to follow the letter of the law."
Employers may register online at http://www.dlt.ri.gov/workshops for the free workshop, "Preventing Unemployment Insurance Fraud," to be held at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Showcase Cinemas, 400 Bald Hill Rd., Warwick. RI State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven O'Donnell and RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin will join Department of Labor and Training Director Charles J. Fogarty and DLT unemployment insurance experts to discuss ways employers can discourage and detect UI fraud.
Recently, the RI Department of Labor and Training began financing an attorney position within the Attorney General's Office who is devoted exclusively to prosecuting fraud cases involving Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Disability Insurance and Workers' Compensation.
Additionally, the department continues its long-standing partnership with the RI State Police in investigating benefits fraud, and is collaborating on a month-long radio public service campaign featuring Director Fogarty and Colonel O'Donnell.
Director Fogarty explains, "The biggest cause for unemployment insurance fraud is when a claimant works full time while still collecting benefits." He adds that those who work part-time while collecting benefits may also be breaking the law if they are not declaring the full amount of their earnings when they certify for benefit payments each week. To detect this type of fraud, the department regularly cross-matches its unemployment insurance databases with RI wage records and the National Directory of New Hires. It also maintains a fraud tip line at (401) 462-1522 where the public can make anonymous complaints regarding UI fraud.
Other ways that the department detects fraud include interstate cross-matching to identify claimants who may be collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits in multiple states. And, it cross-matches Unemployment Insurance claims against its Temporary Disability Insurance records to make sure that a claimant is not illegally collecting from both programs simultaneously. The department even cross-matches records with the RI Department of Corrections, to make sure incarcerated individuals are not falsely claiming to be available for work.
The department is also proactive in recovering Unemployment Insurance and Temporary Disability Insurance overpayments. Automatic deductions for overpayments are taken from state lottery winnings, other state UI claims and state tax refunds. Beginning in the 2014 tax season, automatic deductions for overpayments will also be taken from federal tax refunds. In addition to negotiating payment plans with overpaid claimants, the department contracts with a collection agency to pursue reimbursements. Since January 2011, Rhode Island has successfully recovered $10 million dollars in Income Support overpayments.
In addition to its workshop on combating Unemployment Insurance fraud, the department will host another free employer workshop on combating Temporary Disability Insurance and Workers' Compensation fraud on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 9:00 a.m. at the RI Department of Labor and Training administrative offices, 1511 Pontiac Ave., Cranston. Employers may also register for this workshop at www.dlt.ri.gov/workshop.